St. Louis Health Dept. recommends masks as flu, COVID, and RSV cases surge

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ST. LOUIS – The director of the St. Louis City Health Department recommends a face mask on Friday morning as respiratory illnesses are rising in the area.

The director there says that respiratory illness data shows significant increases and more precautions are needed to avoid straining our healthcare system.

The city health department director is recommending that all residents wear face masks when indoors in public spaces and in crowded environments where social distancing is not possible. This recommendation comes after increases in the area of illnesses, including the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.

We’re told that while none of these viruses are new or more deadly than in the past, the rapidly rising number of cases and hospitalizations is cause for concern. In St. Louis County, flu cases showed a 64% increase over a week ago. Positive RSV cases are up 46% from the prior week and COVID cases reveal a 7-day average of 183 reported cases per day.    

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That is lower, though, than the 217 cases a day we saw leading into Christmas.

The city health department director says the masking recommendation is not something she takes lightly, but rather, it is data-driven.

“When you look at the numbers, they are all up – 2 historically,” Dr. Matfiadza Hlatswayo Davis said.” “And we expect COVID-19 to be up after the major holidays that we had, and the combined effect is dramatic so this is something that is important for me as your director of health.”

Authorities point out that vaccines are available for the flu, RSV, and COVID. Health experts hope that if people abide by the masking recommendation, the case numbers and hospitalizations for these illnesses will drop in the coming weeks.

FOX 2 will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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